One of the things I dreaded so fiercely about motherhood was “losing” my figure. From everything I heard, this was inevitable. I would get frustrated at the way other women would talk about the extra pounds and jiggles with a certain resignation or even carelessness as if they had given up. It was my obsession to be as perfect as I could be. The day I found out I was pregnant with my firstborn, Eden, I cried for hours. Part of me was desperately scared of the responsibility and the other part of me was raging with anguish at what travesty a child might work on my body. The pregnancy became a rollercoaster of joy and trepidation as I slowly began to accept this baby’s presence inside me. I drank gallons of milk and orange juice and downed extra-large cups of black tea cooled with so much commercial milk and sugar I am surprised I didn’t end up with gestational diabetes or milk allergies.
Once Eden was born I fell so madly in love, her intense beauty captivated me and all fear of motherhood was erased. My body however, had changed and the reality of a floppy ring around my middle set into my mommy love-haze. I tried eating a healthy balanced diet, but my portions were tiny. It was not a sustainable cycle. I ended up overeating out of hunger, gaining weight right back, and worst of all, depriving my precious baby girl of nutrients and milk that could have been plentiful and richer. She ended up being weaned at close to 9 months. I had hoped to nurse until she was two years old but a combination of her losing interest and biting me badly brought that dream crashing to a close. Also, to our shock, I was pregnant again!
While pregnant with Elliot, I gained weight far more rapidly. During the spring and summer part of the pregnancy I drank sugar or honey-sweetened fruit smoothies constantly. Some days I would eat just a small amount but end up eating handfuls of m&m’s to keep my energy up. I was miserable. Every week I gained more weight, I looked awkward and felt so tired I would sleep for hours even during the day. I felt like a prisoner in my body and I would emotionally lash out about the pregnancy. I would then feel even more upset at all the negativity I was sending my baby’s way. I was also frustrated because, I felt that since I simply wasn’t eating much, WHY was I gaining so much weight?
My easy-going darling Elliot was born and the anxiety of parenting two small babies compounded my stress levels. I had 18 pounds to lose to reach my pre-baby weight. My belly was a genuinely dough-y and my bottom was larger than I ever imagined it would become.
Things reached a crisis point a few months after Elliot was born. I was researching food, nutrition and world views exhaustively and after reading Nourishing Traditions for the 7th time, change began to dawn on my style of eating. I determined to eat fat actively. Instead of just drizzling a scant tablespoon of olive oil over a salad (and imagining the calories compounding) or eating 5 sugar-sweetened (but full-fat) yogurts I began to literally dose myself with a tablespoon or two of coconut oil before each meal. I ate my organic grass-fed meat rather than just filling up on the veggies. I began to eat a couple of eggs with breakfast instead of having mounds of just toast and jam. Butter was slathered on in lieu of being scraped on as a forbidden luxury. I made my own raw milk yogurt.
I cut sugars everywhere I could, I ate less grains, but when I did I tried to soak them as in soaked oatmeal, pancakes, and ate them with cream, butter, and cultured sour cream. It was food heaven, so many creamy things!
The first thing that happened was my sugar cravings subsided to nothing, I no longer needed that sweetened coffee, I preferred an Americano with just cream. I didn’t miss eating desserts, including, to my amazement, chocolate! Slowly my energy levels climbed, I felt satisfied after meals. The pounds began slipping off too at a rate of perhaps a half a pound per week! This was new territory for me, it was difficult being patient when I was still chubby. But the weight loss was steady and eventually I began to trust the process of replacing sugars with nourishing fats and proteins even though it was counter-intuitive to everything I had learned growing up. My moods became more stable. Even as a woman with a sluggish metabolism, I still lost fat while eating spoonfuls of it. I stopped getting yeast infections. Post-Elliot I seemed to get one every few weeks.
I became the biggest proponent of eating deliciously and traditionally. I became even more excited about eating to thrive and the joys of local food. My mission became to inform other women of healing their bodies with food while maintaining an attractive weight. My mind and body became transformed with hope.
Currently, I still would like to lose a final 5 pounds. I am looking for a way to consistently add some cardio exercise into my daily life. So far, I have used yoga/Pilates sessions on Netflix to firm up. I can feel muscles emerging in my thighs. Under that slightly stretch-marked layer of (yes, forever saggy) skin on my abdomen, I can trace strong abdominals.
A note on nursing: Elliot, now 1 1/2, is still nursing and while I think it jump-starts the metabolism and helps burn away those initial post-pregnancy pounds, if I try to cut back on portion sizes too much, my milk becomes less satisfying for the baby. This means not only a fussy baby but a body that stubbornly conserves every calorie. Basically, I need to eat steadily of the best-quality foods I can find without trying to diet in order to maximize the nursing effect.
I really enjoy reading your findings… I dabble in this some but it seems like there is so much information to wade through and I’m not sure what sources are trustworthy and which ones are not. I read somewhere on here that you are wary about canola oil? could you expound on it a little more? Thanks!
Thank you Beth!!! I agree, there is so much to wade through, but it is wonderful you are motivated to be informed! I have yet to come up with a concise paragraph to explain why I don’t use canola oil. I do endorse the Weston Price website pretty firmly, here is a link to some of the reasons I have considered treating canola with caution. http://www.westonaprice.org/know-your-fats/the-great-con-ola
This is so beautiful and thank you so much for your honesty. I needed this!
Anna I just love this! You have such a beautiful writing voice and I love that you gain so much pleasure through food. I wish that I had more of a passion for eating and eating well! My Mom always hated cooking and has handed that down to all 6 of her daughters now, but it is really something that I want to change. I am excited to keep reading and learning more!
Thanks so much Gretchen! Food is behind vibrant health and moods and I believe, behind building good DNA. Cooking and eating together has this magical ability to bring people closer and to foster relationships, something I care about more than anything else! Go for it and I have no doubt you will continue to discover a joyful world of yumminess and creativity. IMO, the best place to begin is at farmers markets or a backyard garden and to treat those ingredients with great respect and sprinklings of salt!
Yes! The weight comes off eating real (not manufactured ie: canola oil and margarine for examples)fats! Those fake fats will pile on pounds because our bodies don’t know what to do with them. I’ve been eating much like you and have kept off 30 lbs for 3 years now. I am 57. Continue to spread the truth about fat! I am so excited to read your blog. By the way readers…is there a canola plant? It is so named because the patten for the chemical process to manufacture it is held in Canada!
keep up the Pilates work…you will be delighted with your body once again….
i gained a ton of weight with my 3 babies and nursing really was like liposuction for me!
I’m always glad to hear when someone experiences weight loss through nursing, I think that is the ideal and perfect plan for us mamas! However, I feel that through my own journey of years of yo-yo dieting I completely shot what metabolism should have been triggered by nursing and instead my body clung to any thing I would feed it as if it was the last crumb I would eat.